Does the text reveal whether this event was a one-time activity.

2 Answers 2


The phrase "breaking bread" or "breaking of bread" occurs only a very few times in the NT as follows:

  • Luke 24:35 - Then the two told what had happened on the road, and how they had recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. [This was not a communion church service, but an ordinary meal.]
  • Acts 2:46 - With one accord they continued to meet daily in the temple courts and to break bread from house to house, sharing their meals with gladness and sincerity of heart [It is quite debatable whether this refers to informal meals or formal communion; I am inclined to the former because of the explicit phrase "sharing meals".]
  • Acts 20:7 - On the first day of the week [ie, Saturday night - see NEB] we came together to break bread. Since Paul was ready to leave the next day, he talked to them and kept on speaking until midnight. [Again, it is debatable whether this was a final meal together or a formal communion.]
  • Acts 20:11 - Then Paul went back upstairs, broke bread, and ate. And after speaking until daybreak, he departed. [This appears to be a snack to sustain his very long, all-night farewell speech.]
  • 1 Cor 10:16 - Is not the cup of blessing that we bless a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? [This indisputably refers to the communion service.]

Thus, the record of disciples and apostles celebrating formal communion services is very scant, if any at all, apart from the Last Supper before Jesus' crucifixion. Thus, the OP's question cannot be answered from the NT record as we are not told. That is, if the Apostles had regular communion services, we have no record of it.

However, what we do know is that the circumstance in Acts 20 was a "one-time activity" because this was Paul's farewell speech.

  • Does "ready to leave the next day" in Acts 20:7 refer to the actual next Day, or the next day light portion of the first Day?
    – O.J.
    Jun 5 at 16:28
  • @O.J. - the next daylight. Ie, in the morning. That is why he preached all night.
    – Dottard
    Jun 5 at 21:52

The simplest explanation is that "breaking bread" is nothing more than an expression meaning eating a meal together. This is similar to the way British people use the expression "having tea" to refer to the main evening meal. (See Wikipedia: Tea (meal))

There was no rice, pasta, potatoes, etc., so bread was served as the main carbohydrate at every dinner. Sliced Wonder® Bread didn't exist then either; people would pick up the loaf, break off a piece for themselves, and then pass it on to the next person.

(As Dottard's answer demonstrates, this was the usual meaning of the expression in scripture.)

As for Acts 20:7:

Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

Note that "the first day of the week" does not mean what we call Sunday.
Rather, this was a meal eaten following sunset on Saturday, right after the end of the Sabbath when hot food could be prepared and served.


  • Paul and his friends were going to leave Troas and sail to Miletus.
  • They couldn't travel on a Sabbath, so they planned on leaving first thing Sunday morning.
  • They likely spent the day at the local synagogue, studying and discussing the Hebrew scriptures.
  • Saturday evening, after 6 pm sunset, they all met together for a good-bye dinner.
  • Either Paul got a bit carried away, or the people insisted that he keep going, and he talked until the middle of the night.
  • Verse 11 indicates that many continued in conversation until daybreak Sunday morning, at which time Paul's friends went to the ship and departed.
    (For unspecified reasons, Paul himself chose to walk to the next coastal town, Assos, and boarded the ship there.)

There is nothing here that implies any kind of ceremony.
The only religious aspect to this event was that they couldn't travel during the Sabbath.

Interpreting this meal as being on a Sunday, and as being the Catholic sacrament of Communion, is eisegesis (reading one's beliefs into scripture), not exegesis (determining one's beliefs from scripture).

Eisegesis is good for confirming one's beliefs; exegesis is good for developing and proving one's beliefs.

  • Actually, as the meal took place right after sunset on Saturday, it was no longer the Sabbath but was now the first day of the week (Sunday). So it was then on Sunday, just not Sunday "morning".
    – moron
    Jun 4 at 1:29
  • 2
    @moron, yes, by the Hebrew calendar, it was on the first day of the week, just after Sabbath. But by the Roman calendar, it was Saturday evening, shortly after 6 pm, and Sunday wouldn't begin until midnight. The meal was at the beginning of the first day of the week according to the Hebrew calendar, but on the Roman calendar it was ¾ of the way through the seventh day of the week. Mixing aspects of the two calendars isn't logical, and produces nonsense results. Jun 4 at 2:50

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